The Traveling Gingerbread: Budget Travel Tips

Traveling around 9-5 jobs, our flexibility is limited. We almost always travel over US holidays to take advantage of a “free” vacation day, but are at the disadvantage of increased airline tickets.

1. Research Tours For Best Prices

We use Viator for a lot of our tours. Very similar or exact tours are listed at various prices throughout the site. Taking the time to scroll through pages of tours can result in an awesome tour at a fraction of the cost advertised on the first page.

2. Utilize Your Tour Guide’s Knowledge

We ask our guides A LOT of questions and all have been happy to help. Take advantage of having a knowledgeable local that knows the best time to visit temples, must eat restaurants, hidden beaches, and how to use local transportation. In Tokyo, our guide happily explained what metro lines and transfers were needed to reach our post tour and next morning destinations.

3. Plan Your Trip in Advance

Every year we plan a “big” trip around the end of summer. We will start booking flights, accommodations, and tours as early as February. This allows us to slowly accrue the cost of the trip and have it paid off before we leave for the airport.

4. Prepare and Pack Snacks

If circumstances allow, we purchase snacks, water, and breakfast ingredients from a supermarket or bring them in our luggage. Each morning we make breakfast and pack snacks and water for the day. We love to indulge in local cuisine, but this allows us to be more selective with our dining instead of making hangry decisions and just eating what’s convenient.

5. Eat Local

Small, locally owned sodas, cafes, and warungs are authentic and less expensive than popular or well advertised restaurants and can be just as delicious. Markets and hawkers also offer inexpensive food. Street food has a bad reputation, but with caution we eat like locals. We only visit vendors with clean areas, stay away from meat, eat fruit that hasn’t been peeled, and only eat food cooked in front of us.

6. Use Public Transportation 

We use public transportation whenever possible unless there’s a considerable time difference. Buses are usually the cheapest option but can take significantly longer to reach our destination. Metros are more efficient, but it can take time to determine transfers and lines. In a crunch, we compare Uber or Lyft to local taxi prices. Researching cab fares and the bus or metro system prior to our vacation, allows us to make a quick, educated decision on transportation.

7. Invest in a Travel Credit Card

Scheduling our vacations around holiday schedules means peak flight costs. With Mitch travelling frequently for work, annually we usually have enough miles to get one of the more expensive flights home at no cost. Monitor sites for promotions offering bonus sign up miles.

  • We both have the Platinum Delta Sky Miles credit card. We started with a Gold Sky Miles Card, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and upgraded to the Platinum Sky Miles Card with a $195 annual fee. We can transfer miles to each other if we don’t have quite enough and take advantage of the companion flights to fly domestically.
  • A month ago I began using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but haven’t had it long enough to utilize the perks yet. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

8. Research: Are Your “Must See” Restaurants or Bars Must See?

We love rooftop bars, but after researching prices and reviews sometimes they no longer make our must see list. Rather than paying the cost of lunch for one drink at a rooftop bar, we find the same view at a fraction of the price across the street at a small restaurant in high-rise. Also, some of these rooftop venues have transformed into chic, tourist attractions and don’t offer the local vibes we prefer.

9. Check the Holidays in the Country Your Traveling To

Taking trips over a US holiday doesn’t mean it’s a holiday where we are traveling. When we visited China over Labor Day weekend our timing was perfect. Students had just went back to school, the week-long Chinese holiday had just ended, and there were no crowds. We check holiday calendars of countries we are visiting to avoid double holiday flight costs, crowded streets, and increased entrance fees.


August 2018

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Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

My fiancé, Mitch, and I have been traveling together over four years. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, PA, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, and experiences to maximize our time. Any time we travel, we try to visit to a local brewery and can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. 
 In Tokyo, we laughed every time we saw someone talking on their large, animated phone case. We had to buy one. Having an obsolete IPhone 5, the selection was limited. We purchased a gingerbread off a neglected rack in Shinjuku, Tokyo and The Traveling Gingerbread was born. You can purchase your own adorable gingerbread friend here! The Traveling Gingerbread is an entertaining account of our travels, fun facts, and tips we learned along the way.

3 thoughts

  1. Absolutely love all the travel tips! They are spot on & very helpful!
    We enjoy reading about your travels, but most of all we love it when we are on the adventures with you🤗
    As Rick Steves says” Keep on Traveling “!

    Liked by 1 person

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